It was the end of the civilization that saw them born: the fall of Tenochtitlan. Therefore, a Mexica family that survived the conquest of Hernan Cortes Deposit a offering to give an account of the decline they witnessed.
The date on which they decided to place a pot and human ashes in what is now a property in the Central Axis of the Mexican capital, near Garibaldi Square, But it is believed that the offering would have been placed between 1521 and 1610, the year in which Hernán Cortés and his hosts consummated the Conquest and the time when the fusion of the two cultures lasted almost a century, with the pain and wounds that the encounter stopped.
Between songs and the smell of copal, that family decided to say goodbye to their world, which can now be known thanks to the discovery of an archaeological rescue team from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
At a depth of four meters, in the middle part of a 500m2 area, they found elements such as a pot with skeletal remains (human ashes) “and 13 polychrome incense burners almost one meter long, used to burn the resin”. indicated in a statement from INAH.
The finding was made thanks to a report from the Mexico City Housing Institute (INVI), which planned to lay a deep foundation and build two cisterns.
According to Mara Abigaíl Becerra Amezcua, the coordinator of the archaeological rescue, this discovery is especially significant, since it occurs within the framework of “500 years of indigenous resistance.”
According to the specialist, the offering was covered with several layers of adobe to keep it away from the gaze, which accounts for the temple of those Mexica that survived in Tenochtitlan after the conquest of Hernán Cortés.
During three months Mara and her team managed to reach the depth of the site (from 3.5 to 5.20 m), which has been kept as a dwelling for five centuries.
Layer after layer, they reached the walls of what was the first house, located at the time Tezcatzonco, a neighborhood of Cuepopan-Tlaquechiuhca, “one of the four partialities that made up Tenochtitlan.”
This partiality bordered on Tlatelolco and already during the viceroyalty it became Santa María la Redonda.
In addition to giving an account of the mettle of the Mexica survivors of the conquest, the find provides a clearer idea of what the houses of the population, not the elite, were like among the Mexica.
An inner courtyard, where the offering was located, a room, a corridor that connected five rooms (one of them the kitchen) made up that first construction in the place.
Over the centuries, according to Mara Becerra, the residence underwent spatial and architectural modifications.
Although it is clear that it was used for domestic purposes, the finding of musical instruments of worked bone, such as flutes and ocarinas, would also indicate that rituals were performed in the place.
This ritual character is also observed in the arrangement of the offering.
“On the other hand, the set of 13 incense sticks expresses a particular symbolism, since they were arranged on two levels and in two different orientations: some in an east-west direction, and others in a north-south direction, as an evocation of the 20 thirteen that made up the tonalpohualli, the 260-day Mexican ritual calendar; likewise, it is worth mentioning that number 13 alluded to the levels of the sky ”, explained the researcher.
Incense burners served to reinforce the Nahua conception of the universe. “The hollow handles in red, black and blue —which served as a wind instrument—, and their finish with the representation of the head of a water serpent, refer to the forces of the underworld.”
The type of ceramics found in the place gives the opportunity to place the offering in the initial period of contact with the world of the conquerors. “It allows us to interpret this archaeological context as evidence of an offering that was arranged in the first decades after the conquest of Tenochtitlan, as part of a closing ritual from the same space, an essential act for the Tenochca worldview ”.